Skip to main content

05 December 2023

Go to event
A group of women standing in front of a green wall

In the framework of the COP28 in Dubai, PAGE, GACERE and UN partners led, on 3 December, a discussion on accelerating the application of circular economy principles and practices worldwide. By bringing together representatives of governments, UN agencies officials and UNU researchers, the event reflected on circularity as a game changer for climate action in the real economy.

Rie Vejs-Kjeldgaard, ILO Director of Sustainable Enterprises, Productivity and Just Transition and Member of PAGE management board, opened the event focusing on decent work and social justice, and the potential of circular economy to create jobs.

“We have research that shows that if we invested in circular economy potentially even 100 million jobs could be created. […] We need better policies […] We need skills. We need more evidence-based research about the circular economy and how to make it come about in different contexts, and we certainly need social dialogue […] and then we need finally financing”, said Rie Vejs-Kjeldgaard.

“I will be looking forward to the deliberations that follow, and PAGE will continue to be involved in the circular economy […] we hope that the knowledge that we can create out of that can be to use of all of you”, she added.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), underlined the need to build a circular economy culture and the role of government in creating incentives.

“We know what needs to be done there is no crisis as to what needs to be done, so where lies the problem […] we have to take responsibility to build a robust circular economy culture […] from the government perspective and regulation perspective we ought to put mechanisms that will incentivize both the industry the private and the public sector to take this issue of circular economy quite seriously because the integration of circular economy principles within areas such as water, waste management, manufacturing,  consumption and production patterns (…)”, said Tshilidzi Marwala.

The panelists included representatives of different governments from around the world (Argentina, European Union, India, and Peru) who are working with the concept of circular economy. Those were Cecilia Nicolini, State Secretary of Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Innovation, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Argentina; Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India; Carla Montesi, Director for Green Deal and Digital Agenda, Directorate-General for International Partnership, European Union; Milagros Sandoval Diaz, General Director of Climate Change and Desertification at the Ministry of Environment, Peru. Miranda Schnitger, Climate Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation acted as the moderator.

The panelists shared experiences from their own country in promoting a circular economy. “We need more uh alliances and help and collaboration to really make all the policies that we are designing implemented at least in the small scale so that you can scale up with different projects I think it’s key and it’s very important […] I’ve been working with the ministry of labor and we turn around the idea of that the transition would really be very hard economically to really turn into a real opportunity by creating jobs and having a better um more growth and development”, indicated Cecilia Nicolini.

Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, presented the recent initiatives led by the Indian government, namely the Lifestyle for Environment and the eco-mark label. “The lifestyle for environment and it’s all about responsible consumption the basic concept is mindful utilization of resources […] so that ecomark will not only talk about the value of any product or service it will also embed in it in itself how much of environment sustainability has been built into that product or service (…)”, she said.

For Carla Montesi, Director for Green Deal and Digital Agenda at the EU Directorate-General for International Partnerships, the circular economy is “about knowledge sharing, it’s about capacity building, it’s about advocacy, it’s about explaining the importance of working in a circular economy what I would like to add that of course this is an important objective for Europe, and we are working with our partner countries in order to support our partner in moving in in the same ambition”.

Peru has started a public consultation on the road map of circular economy according to Milagros Diaz.  She also highlighted the importance of evidence-based decisions in policymaking. “We cannot take decisions without a solid scientific background (…)”. Peru illustrates this through its collaboration with different research institutes (National University and the University of Costa Rica) throughout the development stages of its circular economy roadmap.

Nidhi Nagabhatla, Senior Fellow and Cluster Coordinator – Nature, Climate and Health – UNU CRIS, UNU CRIS; Sanae Okamoto, Researcher, UNU MERIT; and Ms Edeltraud Guenther, Director, UNU FLORES, presented their research.

Angus Mackay, Director, Division for Planet Manager, Green Development and Climate Change Programme, UNITAR, and PAGE management board member concluded the event on behalf of Seth Nikhil, Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director of UNITAR. “Circularity is not just a game changer for climate change but also for the SDGs more generally.”, he said.

Circularity is not just a game changer for climate change but also for the SDGs more generally

Angus Mackay, Director, Division for Planet Manager, Green Development and Climate Change Programme, UNITAR, and PAGE management board member

The COPs are the biggest and most important annual climate-related conferences on the planet. This year marks the 28th annual summit. The previous COP was held in Egypt.

This COP28 side-event was the result of a close collaboration between the United Nations University (UNU), the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the Partnership for action on Green Economy (PAGE).

The Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACEREis an alliance of governments at the global level willing to work together on and advocate for a global just circular economy transition and more sustainable management of natural resources at the political level and in multilateral fora.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a charity committed to creating a circular economy, which is designed to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature.

PAGE brings together the expertise of five UN agencies UNEP, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNDP, ILO. Currently, 22 countries joined PAGE, including Peru, India and Argentina who were represented in the panel discussion.

Share COP28: Circularity to boost Climate Action in the real economy
Scroll to top